A 25-year-old student from the prestigious Renmin University of China (RUC) was detained by the police for illegally obtaining personal information of some university students. The police vowed to impose severe punishment according to the law.
The police made this announcement on Monday after online posts went viral over the weekend. These posts claimed Ma, the student, stole photos and personal information of both undergraduate and postgraduate students from the university. Ma allegedly used the information to create a website that rates the physical appearance of students.
The website collected students' names, student IDs, dates and regions of birth, according to screenshots circulating online.
The suspected student is reportedly a 2019-batch graduate student of Gaoling School of Artificial Intelligence (GSAI) affiliated to the RUC, has now graduated, and joined Tencent. The information is yet to be confirmed by the RUC.
The RUC said on Sunday night that it has been cooperating with the police for further investigation.
The university strongly condemned the act of infringing personal privacy and harming information security in its notice.
China's law on personal information protection came into effect in 2021. Activities such as collection, processing and trading of personal information are strictly monitored, and any related infringements are to be punished, according to the law.
Liu Changsong, a lawyer with Beijing Mugong Law Firm, told the Global Times on Sunday that the person who sells or provides personal information of a citizen to another person, if the circumstances are serious, shall be sentenced to a fixed-term imprisonment of no more than three years or criminal detention and a fine.
Lawyers also said that the case has sounded the alarm for universities to strengthen protection of students’sensitive and personal data.